MIAMI (CBSMiami) – An Alaskan man who opened fire inside Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport last year has been sentenced to five consecutive life terms followed by 120 years in prison.
Esteban Santiago killed five people and injured six others in the baggage area of the airport in January 2017.
In May, Santiago pleaded guilty to 11 of 22 counts to avoid the death penalty.
Authorities say he retrieved a 9mm handgun he had taken on a flight in checked luggage, loaded it in a bathroom and came out firing randomly in the crowded terminal. After the shooting, the FBI says Santiago told agents he acted under government mind control, then claimed inspiration by Islamic State extremists. No terrorist links were found.
Under terms of the plea deal, Santiago agreed to the life sentences and prison term.
Santiago is responsible for deadliest airport shooting in U.S. history.
There were no cameras allowed in the federal courtroom Friday for the sentencing hearing. The judge had specifically deferred Santiago’s sentencing that he could hear from his victim’s and their family.
Edward Amzibel was injured in the attack and his wife Mary Louise Amzibel was killed. He attended the hearing with his children. His daughter Melissa Beachamp spoke about how Santiago had destroyed a couple married for 45 years, telling Santiago, “because of your poor choices, I no longer have a mother, my best friend.”
Kari Oehme, who was seriously injured the shooting that killed her husband, made a statement in court.
“To the coward who murdered my husband and our daughter’s father, we had no chance against your bullets, we had nowhere to hide,” she read, “I’m am certain that on the day you die your soul will rot in eternal damnation for what you’ve done.”
Santiago chose not to address the victims’ himself, instead, his attorney spoke of a severely mentally ill Iraq war veteran who wanted to apologize to his victims. It got little sympathy from the judge who said that shortly after the shooting when asked by detectives if he had any remorse Santiago replied, “not really.” She said she was imposing the maximum sentence she could as defined by the plea agreement, multiple life terms for what she called “85 seconds of evil.”